By Mark Lore
KISS has outlived most things its age (and probably more than a few
cockroaches), as the rock and roll entity rolls into its 40th year. That
means I’ve just entered my 36th year as a member of the KISS Army (does
this make me a five-star general yet?). Of course, I’m not alone. KISS
fans are as devoted (or gullible, depending on who you ask) as they
2014 is shaping up to be a big year for the most divisive band in the
world. After 15 long years of eligibility, the four original
members—Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley—are
finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band is
reissuing its entire catalog (complete with cardboard Love Guns and
posters) on vinyl. And Stanley—the Starchild and the glue who has held
things together all these years—finally penned an autobiography, making
him the final of the four originals to do so.
While there are plenty of nuggets about KISS’s early daze, Stanley
doesn’t belabor the sex, drugs and minutiae that most KISS fans probably
know anyway (although there are points early in the book, where it
feels like Stanley whizzes through rock and roll’s impact on him).
Instead the Starchild digs deep into the human condition, starting with
his upbringing, where his parents were going through the motions
themselves and found little time for young Stanley Eisen, who was
dealing with his own insecurities (he was born with only one ear, and to
this day is deaf on one side).
Things get particularly interesting at the low points in KISS’s career,
which force Stanley to explore his relationships—personal and
intra-band—and discover what he’s truly lacking in his life. And the
later years, once Stanley starts a family, deal with divorce and the
beginning of a new chapter with his current wife, Erin Sutton, all while
keeping the KISS machine afloat.
For Stanley and the devoted members of the KISS Army, the band’s
longevity perhaps offers some validation for decades of being the
underdogs. At this point KISS has been part of my life so long, it’s
hard for me to even explain what it all means. All I know is, I finally
got to talk to Paul-goddamn-Stanley who, ever the rock-and-roll
politician, was forthcoming, articulate and funny.